Ottawa launches long-awaited competition for armed military drones


Ottawa — The federal government has officially launched a race to buy armed drones after nearly 20 years of delay and debate over whether Canada should buy controversial weapons.

On Friday, a request for proposal was officially announced to two finalists to bid on a $ 5 billion contract. This will allow the Canadian Army to launch a fleet of unmanned aerial vehicles in the coming years.

No formal contract is planned for another year or two, but the first drone will not be delivered until at least 2025, and the last drone will arrive in the early 2030s.

The request does not indicate the number of vehicles the government plans to buy, but instead leaves it to the two companies how their bids meet military needs while benefiting the Canadian economy. ..

The aircraft is based in Nova Scotia’s 14 Wing Greenwood and British Columbia’s 19 Wing Comox, revealing that its main control center is in the Ottawa area. Yellowknife is also identified as a forward operating base.

The drone unit includes approximately 240 Air Force members, 55 of whom will be Greenwood, 25 of whom will be Comox, and 160 of whom will be Ottawa.

Delivery is still a few years away, but the fact that the military has reached this point is almost 20 to identify and purchase UAV fleets to monitor Canadian territory and support missions abroad. It represents a great step forward after years of work.

Except for the purchase of a few temporary unarmed drones for the war in Afghanistan (all retired), the army was unable to make great strides in its permanent fleet.

That was despite drones playing an increasingly important role in the military around the world. According to a report from the Royal Canadian Air Force Journal in late 2015, 76 foreign troops were using drones, and an additional 50 were developing drones.

One of the main reasons was that the free government approved the addition of drones as permanent equipment in the army, similar to fighter and helicopter squadrons, until the 2017 defense policy included drones. There was no federal government.

Government and military say unmanned aerial vehicles are used not only for surveillance and intelligence gathering, but also to provide enemy forces with pinpoint strikes from the air where the use of force is approved. ..

Previously criticized the decision to buy an armed drone given its potential use in Canada and the many reports of airstrikes by other countries, especially the United States and Russia, causing unintended damage and civilian casualties. Some people do.

The government also makes little mention of scenarios where power could be used, such as whether drones could be deployed for assassination. Authorities suggest using it in the same way as conventional weapons such as fighters and cannons.

“(Drone) is a mid-to-high long-term endurance system with precise attack capabilities, but only armed when needed for assigned tasks,” the Pentagon said on Friday.

“Always, the adoption of precision attack capabilities complies with armed conflict law and other applicable national or international law. The use of force applies in accordance with the rules of engagement applicable to the CAF.”

Along Lee Berthiaume

Canadian press

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